Determining whether a student needs an attorney is determined on a case by case basis. You may have experienced many special education violations by your school and still have no need for an attorney. In fact, many special education issues do not require legal counsel and can be negotiated to a satisfactory conclusion directly with the school or district by the parent. Unfortunately, there are times when schools do not seem to budge at IEP meetings unless an attorney is present and other times when no matter how hard you try the school does not appear to be listening, even when your child is very clearly regressing educationally. Generally, it is only after a parent has tried for many months, or even years, to obtain the education their child needs that this office is retained. Other parents will hire us to teach them the special education system at the very outset so they avoid the many pratfalls that befall parents dealing with often unscrupulous districts. And make no mistake, some districts are indeed unscrupulous. Only you can determine when it is time to hire legal counsel to obtain FAPE for your child.
Below is a list of issues we see regularly that are violations of law and that may constitute a good reason for retaining legal counsel:
Refusing a Parental Request for Assessments
Failure to Assess in All Suspected Areas of Disability
Predetermining Placement or Eligibility
Failing to Notify Parents of Their Procedural Rights
Failure to Consider the Continuum of Placement Options
Failing to Consider Assessments/Reports from Parents’ Experts
Impeding Full Participation by Parents on the IEP “Team”
Failing to Include Measurable Goals in an IEP
Calling Parents to Pick-Up Their Child
Denying Needed Services Due to Lack of Resources
Suspending or Expelling a Student for Behavior That is a Manifestation of Their Disability
And Many More….
These are just some of the examples of school or district activities that arise to the level of violations and discrimination. If any of these things happened to you or your child, you may be entitled to damages, either monetary or in the form of reimbursement for private services or compensatory education (services necessary to address your child’s deficit areas that were ignored by the school). That is not to say that if any of these things happened to your child you should seek legal advice. Rather, it is to say that these are known violations and if they happen you may be entitled to obtain a better education for your child and you will be entitled, at the very least, to have those activities that are a violation of the law cease.